She was the most powerful person in our church yet by far the frailest. She relied on me to replace her empty oxygen tank with a new container. She was too weak to turn the metal knob that released precious air. Her decaying lungs made the very act of breathing an ordeal. Yet despite her anxiety in dying she could flash a smile that packed the power of a heavyweight boxer.
Lillian was my friend. To drive to her warm home in the retirement town of King City was a pure blessing. When this gentle woman of graciousness first became a part of our church, we knew she was someone special. She wore the cloak of dignity around her sweater of humility. She ministered to all around her through kind words.
She wasn’t able to attend services very long--bouts of pneumonia coupled with a tired body made outings too dangerous. So, we taped for her my messages and the music of the worship team. She was a great listener. Best of all she possessed a cedar chest of wisdom. She never let me forget that it was my responsibility to preach God’s Word and if my messages seemed to lack depth she let me know it.
At first I thought I was the one who was ministering by going to meet with Lillian each week. In reality, as I look back, she was the one who was pastoring. When the ordeals that come with shepherding would weigh me down, she dispensed truth—compassionate truth, tail-kicking truth and be quiet truth. We often shed tears together for people we both loved. She could sense when I was discouraged and in those tender times of vulnerability she would usher us into God’s presence in prayer. How much I loved to pray with her. Lillian, my frail friend who fell in love with God late in life, taught me much.
2 Corinthians 12:9--But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.
Are you frustrated by the reality of being vulnerable--to sickness, to conflict, or perhaps a sense of helplessness? Cheer up! True strength is not defined by flesh encased muscles, by mental millionaires or the power to perform. True strength is defined by weakness. Yes—that’s right, WEAKNESS! When we recognize that God is able we are no longer disabled. When we believe our power comes from Him we are liberated from the kingdom of wimphood; set free forever from the cages of can’t.
So be strong in the Lord, the same Savior who filled the empty lungs of a wonderful saint, with the air of eternal life. Lillian, I miss you. Thank you for teaching me the gift of weakness. Your labor was not in vain.
To be weak in God’s strength is a crime.—Oswald Chambers in God’s Workmanship
©1998 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)